Pompeo: Disputed Golan Heights ‘part of’ Israel

Mike Pompeo has become the first U.S. secretary of state to visit an Israeli West Bank settlement and the Golan Heights...in a parting show of solidarity on Thursday that the Palestinians said would help Israel cement its grip on occupied territory.

Pompeo first met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, on what could be his last official tour of the Middle East... in the final months of the Trump administration.

The top U.S. diplomat then traveled to the Israel-occupied West Bank and toured the Psagot winery... announcing new guidelines for Israeli products made in settlements and destined for the United States...saying they could be labeled 'Made in Israel', instead of distinguishing them.

Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, also broke with decades of U.S. policy by saying the United States no longer viewed Israel's settlements in the West Bank as "inconsistent with international law."

Then, Pompeo visited the Golan Heights. Trump delighted Israel last year by recognizing Israel's claim to sovereignty over the part of the Golan Heights it captured from Syria in a 1967 war, and later annexed. A move that was not recognized by most of the international community.

But Pompeo Thursday echoed that support.

"You can't stand here and stare out at what's across the border and deny the central thing that President Trump recognized what the previous presidents have refused to do. This is a part of Israel and a central part of Israel."

Syria quickly condemned the visit as "provocative."

While a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that by visiting the settlements, Pompeo was actively participating in the occupation.

Top U.S. officials had previously stayed away from the settlements, which are built on land the Palestinians want for a future state.

The Palestinians -- who boycotted the Trump administration for the better part of three years, accusing it of pro-Israel bias -- have indicated they'll resume normal ties with the United States when President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

But it is unclear how many of Trump's decisions -- which also included moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem -- a Biden administration would reverse.